My Friends & Me

Dionne Warwick

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My Friends & Me Review

by John Bush

My Friends & Me, Dionne Warwick's collection of duets that revisit her classic recordings, benefits from her many talented friends in the music industry, but most of all from a family member. Her son Damon Elliott has worked with his mother for close to ten years, when he's not producing for contemporary hitmakers Pink, Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Kelis, and Mya. Elliott's production for this record is engaging and charming, right up to the minute digitally on the rhythm end, but with plenty of space within the tracks to echo the airy productions of Warwick's long-time producer, Burt Bacharach. Also, Elliott kept most of these versions piano-based and added a tight backing chorus that is virtually necessary for anyone familiar with the original "Walk on By" or "Anyone Who Had a Heart." Dionne Warwick's voice, however, hasn't aged as well as her contemporaries, and the record often resembles a tribute album whose subject only stops by occasionally. (More often than not, the guests are featured more than Warwick herself.) The only track with radical changes is "The Windows of the World," which is presented with no less than four vocal guests (Angie Stone, Chanté Moore, Deborah Cox, Da Brat) and in a version that allows Da Brat to rap on the state of the world between the lines of the verses. Elsewhere, highlights come with Cyndi Lauper's quiet, pleading version of "Message to Michael," Kelis' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," and Wynonna Judd's surprisingly smoky "Anyone Who Had a Heart."

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